Saturday, February 07, 2009


Stupa from Sanchi, c. 50 BCE

I'm finally turning my attention to another
great civilization of the world,
and my first big discovery
is the sculpture of Mathura,
one of the styles that developed
in the 4 centuries
between the two great empires,
the Mauryan and the Gupta
(200 bc - 200 ad)

It's contemporary with the Ghandaran style,
example of which are
much more common
in American museums,
probably because the more detailed style
made for highly collectable fragments -
it reflected a Hellenistic influence
probably more popular with collectors.

There's no Mathura work in Chicago,
and I can only remember seeing one piece
anywhere else -- in the Met.

The memorable characteristic,
for me,
is the full figured, melon-breasted women
as shown above
often hanging from trees

They're called Laksi,
and apparently
they do not appear
in the pantheon
of either the Vedic religion, Buddhism, or Jainism.

(though there also appears to be a backstory
that makes them assistants to a god of wealth
who moved to the Himilayas)

They just seem to express
the irresistible desire
to be surrounded by young,
full bodied,
beautiful women.

(with which I have great sympathy)

from Kusana, 2nd C.

Nobody has a body
that looks like this,
composed with such
full, simple shapes.

but that doesn't really bother me.

These are architectural features
that also happen to be sexy.

2nd C.
And why are they
often standing on the backs
of these little monsters ?

BTW -- this girl
is pointing to the nail marks
on her cheek,
presumably left by
last evening's lover

(this is the same age
that produced the Kamasutra)

from Uttar Pradesh c. 100

from Punjab, c. 200

from Uttar Pradesh, 50 BCE

2nd C.

from Uttar Pradesh, c. 15
Here's the Mathuran version of relief sculpture.

It feels Romanesque, doesn't it ?

Quite different from the Ghandaran style.

from Uttar Pradesh, c. 15

from Uttar Pradesh, c. 15

I can't figure out this story.
Is this the burial of a dead prince ?

Uttar Pradesh, c. 50 BCE

The male figures are also voluptuous,
with cute little tummies

2nd C.

This is the Maitreya Buddha,
the one who is coming in the future

Here's the Mathura piece
from the Cincinnati Art Museum

They date it to the 2nd C. C.E.
and locate it in Kushan


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